Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Palpitations Overview

What are palpitations?
A person with palpitations has the sensation that the heart is pounding or fluttering in the chest. Palpitations can be normal, but may also be a sign of an underlying heart disease, such as a cardiac arrhythmia. Common causes of palpitations include anxiety, stress, alcohol, caffeine, anemia, and medication side effects.

What are the symptoms of palpitations?
Symptoms that can occur with palpitations include anxiety, chest pain, arm pain, jaw pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, faintness, fainting, nausea, rapid pulse, excessive sweating, and vomiting.

How does the doctor treat palpitations?
The treatment for palpitations depends on the cause. Not all causes of palpitations require treatment. Treatment for palpitations may include avoiding substances that stimulate the heart, such as caffeine, alcohol, and decongestants. Additional treatment for palpitations caused by a cardiac arrhythmia may include medications that control the heart rate, or a cardiac pacemaker.

Continue to Palpitations Symptoms

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Palpitations References
  1. Abbott AV. Diagnostic approach to palpitations. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Feb 15;71(4):743-50. [15742913]
  2. Mayou R. Chest pain, palpitations and panic. J Psychosom Res. 1998 Jan;44(1):53-70. [9483464]
  3. Nehgme R. Recent developments in the etiology, evaluation, and management of the child with palpitations. Curr Opin Pediatr. 1998 Oct;10(5):470-5. [9818242]
  4. Summerton N, Mann S, Rigby A, Petkar S, Dhawan J. New-onset palpitations in general practice: assessing the discriminant value of items within the clinical history. Fam Pract. 2001 Aug;18(4):383-92. [11477045]
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